Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CALL night comes alive

It is by comparison with a top CALL night that we can now honestly say how disappointing the night was in Lee a month earlier. Blame the relocation, and the location, but not the acts themselves, those of whom on Saturday’s bill at the Cross Kings again put in a great shift as a football manager might patronisingly say. These include the Amigans, Bard Stupid, Matt Dolphin and the Carbon Town Cryer, and of course Radio Revolucion, who this time had a captive audience ready to rock out. These were well augmented by Turkish melancholia from Emre and friends and some jazz-funking by Motiv, and well co-ordinated by the speakers and MCs.

This time I got 60-70 mins in on the decks too, 15 minutes or so amping ahead of RR, and then 50 or so to finish the night off. Due to a day of travel and football and subsequently even more post-booze drowsiness taking me well into the Bank holiday when I returned to work, memories of the platters that shattered are already hazy. But I do remember that the second disc of dance, new wave and hi-speed indie I had compiled as the ‘later’ hoped-for floorfiller generally seemed to stall in the CD deck, so I was reliant on the ‘early’ one of reggae, soul, rock and the like as well as a poor stocking of vinyl. (Preparation had still taken around four hours earlier that day, in so doing shunning the sunshine, but as I have said before this is one of the best aspects for the part-time dj, the refamiliarisation, even if you will always end up taking enough tunes for four or five times worth the set you end up getting; I willingly let myself get carried
away with how this and that will work, potential combination of tunes, etc.)

So there were a couple of Clashes in the form of London Calling (for obvious reasons) and The Magnificent Seven, Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey, some soul and funk like Bobby Byrd, the Pilooski remx of Beggin’ and Redding’s cover of Satisfaction (an old wedding favourite that one), modern skankers such as the dub version of Roots’ Witness and curios such as the Acid Brass cover of Voodoo Ray (earning my first approving inquiry from the soundman).

Favourites for me were Coki’s Officer and Scruff’s rmx of Bonobo’s Terrapin. Both early-decade tunes but widely divergent in tempo, one a dubstep skanker full of bass, the other a spacey but frenetic percussive shaker using bits of the original’s sitar but not much else. It was good to see them fly in among tunes that people generally knew (and the soundman, again, propped for the Scruff rmx).

Bruce's next awareness-raiser is on 6 June but switches focus to the climate camp crew. Should be another great night.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CALL King’s Cross, this Saturday

The CALL fund and awareness-raising night returns this weekend, this time better located in town at the Cross Kings in, that’s right, King’s Cross.

The cause of ‘Defend Education, Defend jobs’ is the same (with many people likely to come from a demonstration against LMU cuts), but the line-up has been refreshed with some new acts and Truth set to play a few sets, one early on and one after Radio Revolucion. Should be a lively night.
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New microgenre alert

Motor’s rmx of Kanye West’s Robocop (from the forthcoming film) is not likely to make the CALL playlist, where more party-oriented fare rather than ‘death rave’ will be required. This grinding French-US techno act has spent a few years on Nova Mute churning out mechanihilist output (I’m a fan of their Stuka Stunt/Junker twelve from 2005; it sits nicely with Vitalic and all the spazz) but have seen their profile raised through touring with Depeche Mode.

Motor have whacked on the hoovers for this remix, engendering typical ‘this is the shit/this is just shit’ cleavage among the downloaders and instant reactors over at Rcdbl. Kind of like electroclash with all the faux personality replaced by cold artless logos and another bank of machines that go ‘whrr’ rather a lot. If they are in hock to technofuturism, the white heat of continuous human upgrade, they send it up with typical arthouse representation, suggesting they're just as interested in the process of mediatisation.

The comparison with Human Resources’ Dominator is an obvious one (although probably not especially to them because the hoover sound has never really gone away from certain strains of European techno), but any such link must acknowledge key cultural differences. Motor’s going for schlock levels of 11 will not divide a whole community like it did when rave was in such a vortex people cared but had no clue where it was going, and in a modern milieu people are dead used to really shocking sounds like so much that they’re not, like, really shocking at all and probably a bit last Wednesday for some.

But while we’re at it let’s have it to the original hoover-shock (and also admire the KMS’s great meld of breakbeat and 909s):

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Top 10 of the Decade - fourth entry

Hiem – She’s the One
(Matthew Jonson Circles in Time remix – Crosstown Rebels 2004) (series growing here)

I knew about Hiem’s schlocky Sheffield take on song-based electro dance from Corky putting their Chelsea on one of his CD compilations. It was an abrasive, underproduced number, overlaid with spoken word about the reet headfuck that is the erstwhile local girl, which the NME described as ‘like Cabaret Voltaire collaborating with Mike Skinner, or John Cooper Clarke fronting Fat Truckers’. Then some months later my mate Steve gave me She’s the One, out on Damian Lazarus' Crosstown Rebels, as part of a batch of 12s for a present, back then when we still just about considered such accumulation of 12s vaguely important (so if you’re going to get me anything I’m going to strongly emphasise that it should be black plastic, don’t worry I’ll reciprocate with similar, it’s that or a DVD, etc etc). He said head straight for the Circles in Time rmx by Mathew Jonson, an up-and-coming producer fond of a Detroit classicism or two. My love for this was so immediate and desire for the moment so satiated that I’ve only just listened to the original A-side for context for this article, I’m ashamed to say.

Dance music’s appeal may be all about the extended plateau of pleasure bought about by repetitive beats, but iteration within that framework is essential. It is only ever the same in rockists' ears, while ravers know the tune and perception of it are ever changing. Here, the first phase is a low-key stroll with the vocals (again, about a girl, this time ‘loved by sycophants’ who could be ‘the love of my life’) to the fore and a robust synthesised electric bass maintaining the momentum if not defeating the melancholic air; good, but only serving to counterpart what comes next.

My love for this song, or rather its remix, is centred on two areas, the build-up of the second phase of intended dancefloor ignitionwith the different percussive elements (some on reverb) and ominous keys stalking the soundscape. Then within that the few bars when, after everything else has been laid on, a new, Detroit bassline comes in heralding we’re nearly ready to go and my body coldrushes with delight. When that happens, even on repeated plays, not to mention repeated plays under review conditions for this series, I don’t care whether this sound is too techno for the time, too reverent to established mores, too fashionable, not fashionable enough, not esoteric enough, too cliquey, not street-wise, whatever – everything fits to propel me forward to the end of the track. Anyone with similar musical loves to me would go for it, but then that’s obvious due to this being a top 10 of my favourites; no need to write timid justifications for my liking of each tune when a little on why they can be so illuminating is much more pertinent. Circles in Time succeeds for its brilliant, dramatic use of dynamics.

Crosstown later released Hiem’s Zombie Eye. There is a lack of coherent articles about Hiem online, perhaps reflecting their position just under the radar of cool, their unwillingness for their militant electro to be co-opted into the mainstream, or the fact that they have not established themselves as magazine-friendly ‘electropop’ or producer-centric ‘dance’ (they say they are weighted to the former). But it looks like Hiem are still going, along with David ‘Bozz’ Bozzwell’s solo project (he also fronted Sheff’s All-Seeing Eye), and he and Nick could have an album out soon. With a producer such as Jonson at the helm, it could be a finely crafted thing.
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